Establish Bonding Experiences to Build Your Team

June 4, 2018

Strengthening Your Onboarding Process

Whether you’re looking at scientific studies into brain chemistry or retelling countless examples of anecdotal experience, we understand that bonding is an important human instinct that is crucial to our development. Not only does it give babies a sense of security and self-esteem, but bonding also helps parents feel connected to their newest family member.

While bonding is often discussed in relation to our familial and personal relationships, it’s also crucial to our professional relationships – especially relationships with new employees. If you aren’t using your onboarding process to properly bond with your new team members, you’re missing out on a key opportunity to build a strong team from the very beginning.

Thankfully, it only takes a few steps for your company to have a positive impact on your team culture when it comes to introducing new employees, and it begins with building memorable first impressions into the onboarding process.

Laying the Foundation

Most of us, throughout our careers, have had a less than valuable – and sometimes downright boringly ugly – first week on the job. (You likely have one in particular that comes to mind!) In fact, most companies don’t have strong onboarding or orientation processes, and for the ones that do, it’s not a fun, learning-orientated, energetic, or memorable experience.

I get it – to intentionally think through and build an energetic orientation process takes time, resources, and effort. But that’s the point! When done well, an engaging onboarding process can be a game-changing cultural experience for new team members that can result in amazing outcomes. I’ve personally seen the following with my clients and at my businesses:

1) New “A Players” refer other new “A Player” candidates, which reduces your cost of recruiting and risk on new hires;

2) New team members are inspired to go consistently above and beyond what is asked of them in their role out of cultural commitment; and

3) Your employees actively help propel your company into the media limelight, and possibly toward a “Best Company to Work For” award.

In practice, this should look like an energetic, fun orientation during the first few days and weeks in the office for your new employee – and the process should reflect your company’s unique culture.

Showing the Ropes 

I heartily recommend building time, education, and experience around your company culture, core values, purpose, and people into the onboarding process. You should answer questions such as:

· “What are the elements of our company’s culture?”

· “How do we live out culture and core values?”

· “Who are the cultural icons within our company we can learn culture and values from simply through observation?”

· “How do we celebrate our successes and enjoy our work together?”

· And many more!

A key element to highlight is “experience.” This is vital for new employees, not only to learn about culture, values, and purpose but to see and feel them in action so they can really get a true sense of what they mean in practice.

The Principles in Action of Houston, Texas, uses a thoughtful and well-designed scavenger hunt to introduce new employees to the culture, facilities, existing team members, and core values of the company. This activity yields several positive byproducts:

1. It energizes the company culture with fun.

2. It creates an identity for the new employees as they enter the company together in the first week.

3. Because these relationships are built early, these employees often find themselves working well cross-departmentally later on down the road.

After the scavenger hunt is complete, the CEO, Jay Steinfeld, drives the new employees to the company’s first office in a non-descript, back alley in downtown Houston. Here, he shares the history of the company and its founding values. This way, the onboarding process effectively manages to connect new employees and reinforce the company history – all in a way that is fun, memorable, and very inspiring!

With these principles and examples in mind, it’s time for you to dig deep and get creative with the onboarding processes at your company. What are you currently doing to bond with your new employees? Is it working? What could you change or incorporate into your onboarding process that would help you bond with your new employees and reinforce company culture?  

If you need help getting started, give me a call! I’d love to brainstorm with you.